Brazil shortlists 10.8GW of PV

About 10.8GW of PV projects have been shortlisted by Brazil’s federal energy planning authority EPE in the country's first solar auction scheduled for 31 October – some 80% more than the 6GW registered for this year’s A-5 auction and for auctions last year.

Solar power accounted for 42% of the total capacity registered, which also included wind and waste-to-energy technologies. According to EPE, 400 solar power projects have been registered and are seeking final clearance to sell power at the auction.

The reserve auction will be the first time that solar will not compete directly with other, cheaper sources. The government expects the auction to kick-start the solar PV industry the country through large-scale solar projects and sees some 2GW installed by 2019.

Currently, Brazil has 11MW of solar PV plants in operation, the largest being the 3MW Nova Aurora plant in southern Brazil.

At last year's auctions, when solar power was also included, about 6GW of projects were cleared to bid, but none sold power because they competed in price for the 20-year PPAs with cheaper wind. While investors say that a fair price for solar PV in Brazil is at least R$250/MWh ($112/MWh), wind power was priced at around R$130/MWh at recent auctions.  

Earlier this month, Brazil's federal government postponed the dates of the reserve auction from October 10 to October 31 and for the A-5 auction from September 12 to September 30. The government has yet to set price caps for the auctions.

According to EPE, the sunny and windy northeastern state of Bahia accounted for 4.3GW, or 40%, of all solar power projects registered. Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Pernambuco, also in the northeastern region, accounted for 1.2GW of solar power projects each.

Solar projects were also registered in the industrial hub state of São Paulo (788MW) and Minas Gerais (507MW), both in the country's southeastern region which don't have competitive wind power potentials. 

Projects that win 20-year PPAs at the reserve auction will have to start operation by October 2017. The winning projects at the A-5 auction will have to be operational in 2019.